Former New Mexico Governor Warns Of 'Government Snooping At An
Entirely New Level'
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who is running for
President of the United States as a Libertarian, is calling
congressional approval of legislation making it easier for the
government to operate unmanned drones over U.S. soil an
“ominous step that raises serious concerns about individual
freedom and privacy.” The FAA Reauthorization Act, signed
into law by President Obama Tuesday, includes a provision directing
the FAA to develop rules for the testing and licensing of drones to
be flown in U.S. airspace and to expedite the process for
authorizing their use by federal, state and local agencies. The FAA
projects that as many as 30,000 drones could be in use over the
U.S. by 2020.
In a statement, Johnson (pictured) said, “The
threats to privacy in America – from our own government
– seem to never end. Does Congress really think they can just
stick an ‘oh-by-the-way' provision in an obscure piece of
legislation directing the FAA to clear the way for 30,000 drones to
fly over our neighborhoods, and have no one notice?
“Big Brother is alive and well, and now we’re
talking about making it easier for him to fly remote control planes
loaded with cameras over our neighborhoods. Based on our experience
with the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, and
several other laws Congress has enacted in recent years, it is not
alarmist to fear or assume that when we give the government the
power to snoop, they will indeed snoop.
“The government, through the FAA, already has the power to
permit specific uses of drones, such as in fighting forest fires,
looking for lost campers, or helping deal with natural disasters.
And right now, they are being used to patrol the border. Some of
those uses may be justified and legit, and the rules allow for that
today. But directing the FAA to come up with a system that will
allow federal, state and local law enforcement to deploy 30,000
drones is a very different proposition, and should absolutely not
be allowed to proceed without a serious conversation about a very
real threat to fundamental privacy.
“The ACLU, the Electronic Freedom Foundation and numerous
other groups are expressing serious concerns about Congress’
action, as they should. I share those concerns. The idea that the
air above our heads and homes should be turned into a wide-open
playground for government snooping is an insult to freedom and to
what remains of privacy in this country.”